Shooting Food — Filming Food So It Looks Good Enough To Eat

I’ve worked a number of movie shoots with eating scenes and they can be very difficult because of perishable food items. Since the object is to make the food always look good (even if it is barely on the screen), there are special challenges in shooting edibles. And if you’re filming a feast, the food should look perfect!

I’ve created this list to share some of the most useful information that I’ve come across working Art Department with food handling. These items come from real world experience, so they should be applicable to most filming situations.

Here are some tips on filming food:

Use colored dishes

——————————–

Most non-professional art directors overlook using colored plates, service trays, glasses, etc. Color dishes do two things for you: add color to your scene and add contrast to food presentation. Imagine a black plate with a tomato and a leaf of lettuce on it. Much better than a white plate with the same items. Warning: Only do this if the colors of the dishes match (all glasses same color, all plates same color, etc.) If it looks like you picked up a hodgepodge of colored dishes at the local thrift store, it will ruin the film illusion.

Use a spray-bottle of cooking oil

——————————–

Most food has a matte finish so the food surface doesn’t reflect much light. A spray bottle of oil will add a shine to items that will enhance how most food appears on film. It will also add lighting highlights that enhances the look of food. A coating of oil can also be used to simulate wet food.

Think ahead about food rotting

——————————–

Many people think of food refrigeration before the shooting begins (making sure meat, etc. is well kept before 1st call). Beginners often forget to consider what the food will be like after 5 hours of shooting under the hot lights. Consider this when you’re putting together your on-camera meal. It’s hard to get a good performance out of an actor when a rotting pork chop is sitting right under his nose.

Mix real food with fake food

——————————–

If you use all fake food (wax grapes, plastic lemons, etc.), the food will appear fake on camera. The best technique is to mix real and fake food. This can work especially well with deserts. Fake ice cream with real cherries and whip cream looks good enough to eat! Also, mashed potatoes can be a useful stand-in for ice cream.

Use the vaseline trick for beading water

——————————–

Vaseline can be used on an actor’s face to simulate beads of sweat. Likewise, you can coat the outside of a vegetable (such as an apple). Use a hand spray filled with water and the water will bead on the surface for that just-out-of-the-garden freshness. Note that this effect won’t be picked up by the camera except with close-up photography and specific lighting, so don’t bother except under those conditions. This technique can also be used for beads of water on a glass if you need the glass to look like it’s sweating from a cold liquid inside.

Soft lighting makes food look good

——————————–

The general rule in shooting food is that soft light makes food look good to eat, hard lighting makes it look like poison. The hard light creates harsh shadows which makes food look blacker/rotten. Food lighting is exactly like lighting people — think of your desired effect.

Use dish soap for a head on a beer

——————————–

If the scene requires beer, dish soap provides a good frothy head that lasts under the hot lights. Obviously, make sure your actors don’t take a swig. That said, I would personally recommend avoiding shooting beer. Unless it is specially lighted, it will show up on film as a flat brown which typically less than appetizing.

Undercook food to retain firmness

——————————–

Many foods wilt under the long shooting hours and hot lights. Some foods such as pasta (especially spaghetti) can be under-cooked to a rubber consistency. These foods will then stay firm during the entire shoot rather than wilting and appearing exhausted.

Bring spare tablecloths

——————————–

Almost without fail an actor will spill something on your tablecloth. Both the spill and the stain will cause horrid problems for film continuity. Have 2 or 3 identical tablecloths on set. When a spill occurs, you can quickly swap out the dirty one for a clean reserve.

Consider using food doubles

——————————–

If the food shoot is going to be very long and the food needs to look perfect, you can use fake food for the long shots and the real perfect food for the close ups.

How Adding a Sports Simulator to Your Man Cave Can Create a Sports Fanatic’s Paradise

Like every man, every man cave is unique. There are man caves for computer nerds, man cave for motor heads, even man caves for crazed golfers. Yet, maybe the most common man room is the hang-out for sports fans. A standard sports fanatic’s man cave may look something like this: A big screen TV to watch the big game, numerous sofas and sitting areas for friends to get comfortable, perhaps a bar – or at least a fridge – containing beer to fuel the fanatics, and various bits of sports memorabilia dangling off the walls, mocking the girlfriend or wife as mementos of her boyfriend’s or husband’s deep love for a game.

Still, a sports fan’s man room can be more than a simple theater for watching televised sports. Some guys like to spice it up with a video game console equipped with Madden™ or NBA Live™. This is because, men have a thirst for competition. For the die-hard fan, this is spurred on by watching competitive sports, which only encourages delusional thoughts of extraordinary prowess.

Besides video games, there are other pieces of technology can be added to improve a man cave. Some fellas may use a simulator. One simulator in particular, the mini home sports simulator, uses the man room’s already existing giant TV like a video game console.

Sports simulators may not be virtual reality, but they provide a very exciting experience for sports fans. They not only allow guys to beat each other at games, but allow them to fantasize about becoming pro athletes. Sports simulators engage the user by permitting the use of actual sports equipment. For example, users can throw a football, or shoot a hockey puck into the simulator.

A mini home sports simulator has all the capabilities a normal simulator has, but is more practical for a man room. It doesn’t take up the space needed for buddies to stretch out their legs and grub on nachos and beer.

For those die-hard sports fanatics, you are a good candidate for an official man cave. No rec room is complete without a simulator to test your grit against a computerized opponent or even your buddies.

Many simulators are too large to fit inside a man cave, but there is hope for the sports fan. A home sports simulator is the perfect substitute. Sports fans can install a mini home sports simulator into their television. Of course, a net is raised in front for the TV to guard it from projectile sports gear.

The miniature sports simulator can become the staple for the man cave. No longer will it be a room only used during game days, but one that can be used every day. Right after you get home, or long into the late hours of the night, you can spend more time enjoying the man room, even if the wife or girlfriend doesn’t approve.

Turn Your Basement Into a Virtual Shooting Gallery

An indoor shooting simulator is easy to add on to most projection based home theater systems, and in most cases is an inexpensive way to add hours of entertainment for the whole family. People of all ages enjoy playing the wide range of games that are available for the system, everything from “Baseball Challenge” to “Elephant Hunter” will keep your family and friends entertained. Utilizing a shooting simulator is not only a great way to add excitement to your home theater room; it is also a get way to keep your shooting skills sharp.

System Basics:
There are a few basic requirements for adding a shooting simulator to an existing home theater. The simulator runs on a normal Windows based computer, software is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. The image is broadcast through a projector to a screen, which most projectors and home theater screens will be suitable for use with this simulator. Now all you need to add is a basic simulator package, which includes a rifle, case, camera and five games. Installation of the simulator will only take about thirty minutes to setup and install the new software and hardware. Now you are ready to start enjoying the very best of simulated shooting. To recap the items you need: computer, projector, screen and a simulator package.

Benefits of Indoor Shooting:
There are many advantages to adding an indoor shooting simulator to you home theater room, these are just a few.
Convenience- having the ability to practice your shooting skills from within your own house, cuts down on drive time to the range and you can fire up your system anytime you want.
Cost Savings- ammunition is expensive! You will save a lot of money practicing your skills using a true to life replica laser firearm verses using live ammo.
Safety- using a laser firearm is a much safer weapon to practice will and it’s a lot better for your hearing.
Shooting Variety- with a shooting simulator you have the ability to practice your skills on a wide range of software titles. You can practice shooting skeet and with just a touch of a button you can switch over to another game and practice your marksmanship on simulated popup targets.
Entertainment- Gather you friends and family, challenge them for the highest score or for bragging rights.

Packages and Software:
With this system, there are many packages of both hardware and software available. Looking for a portable package or maybe a complete package if you don’t have a projector, computer and screen? Those packages and more are available. There are over 35 software titles currently available, which can be purchased separately or in 15 game packages. Software titles are being added, so you will always have the option to buy the latest games on the market. Do you have the best Halloween party on your block? There is a Halloween software package that will insure your party is unforgettable. Do you have a young hunter or marksman that could benefit from “Hunter’s Education” software? It is an option on this simulator. Teach them everything from ethical shooting to animal anatomy, with the hunter’s Ed package. Looking to hone your archery skills? This simulator has packages available for you bow enthusiasts. There are several optional firearms which can be added to the system, to maximize the skill development and enjoyment of the simulator.

Adding a shooting simulator to your theater room is easy and a cost effective way of increasing the entertainment value of your room as well as improve shooting skills. If you would like some more information on the shooting simulators or have any questions please contact me through the website.